TRAVERSE CITY –– Environmental activists say federal programs designed to protect and clean up the Great Lakes will take a big hit if Congress and President Barack Obama don't reach a budget deal soon.
Without a deficit reduction agreement, across-the-board spending cuts will kick in Jan. 1. Leaders of advocacy groups said this month that would mean an 8.2 percent reduction in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a multi-year program dealing with some of the region's top ecological threats such as invasive species and toxic pollution.
The program received $300 million this year. The cut presumably would reduce it to $275 million in 2013.
Joel Brammeier of the Alliance for the Great Lakes said slashing the restoration program would damage the environment and the regional economy, including the fishing and tourism industries.